Even though the temperatures haven’t quite warmed up to full spring levels, there is still work to be done. In this post, we will go over everything you need to do to prepare your lawn for spring. The following are the best ways to prepare your lawn for spring season:
1. Clear Any Debris & Assess Winter Damage
Assess any winter damage that may have occurred to your lawn. You may find areas that need to be reseeded, or may just need a little help growing back.
Before you start any yard work, you will want to clear the lawn on any debris that was left over the winter. Ideally, this is done after there is no more snow in the forecast. Having soil free of debris will help ensure that your lawn will grow back with little interruption.
Debris in your yard can include:
- Leaves and sticks (which can be used for compost)
- Buried items
2. Measure Your Soil Temperatures
The next thing you are going to want to do is get a reading of your soil temperature. The best time to fertilize starts with the right soil temperature. You can conduct a temperature test using an inexpensive probe thermometer.
- Test soil at 1-2 inches and down 3-4 inches and take note of any notable temperature difference.
Soil temperatures are important because this will dictate when you apply certain products to your lawn.
Best Soil Temperatures for Fertilizing Warm/Cool Season Grasses
The best soil temperatures to fertilize your cool-season lawns is going to be in the range of 55 and 65 degrees. For warm-season lawns, fertilization can begin once soil gets to 65-75 degrees.
3. Get a Soil Test
Getting a soil test has several benefits, but if you haven’t gotten a soil test in over a year, you should get your soil checked. Be sure to start your soil test before amending your soil or planting seed. This process can take up to a month, depending on the lab so don’t wait on the last minute!
Getting a soil test will give you an accurate picture and help you to do the following:
Avoid Over or Under Fertilizing
Knowing the pH and nutrient levels can help you avoid over/under fertilizing, which is not only a waste of money and time, but it can also throw off the delicate balance and ecosystem of your soil. A soil test will help you understand what elements your soil may be lacking. Nutrient deficiencies can show visual symptoms, but they can be hard to spot and sometimes can be confused with other ailments.
Some weeds actually thrive in acidic or nutrient deficient soils. Balancing your soil will help you prevent certain weeds from thriving in high/low pH/low nutrient holding capacity soils.
Growing Quality Grass
Having balanced soil will help the quality of your lawn. If your soil is healthy, your lawn is more likely to be healthy, thus having a better appearance.
4. Prevent Weeds From Invading Your Yard
A good practice is to address weeds before fixing bare spots in the lawn or fertilizing. Reason being, is that you do not want to apply fertilizer and feed the weeds rather than your grass.
You can spot treat your lawn for weeds, or if you only have a few here and there, plucking them out by hand can be extremely satisfying.
What is a Pre-Emergent?
If you foresee yourself having a substantial weed problem this spring, you can turn to applying pre-emergent. A pre-emergent will prevent certain weeds such as crabgrass or clover from growing. This type of product is applied to the soil and and is absorbed by the weed immediatley after it germinates. This type of product must be used with care, and followed according to the package directions. Some pre-emergents are specifically developed for certain grass types, some are designed to target specific weeds, and some will kill any kind of plant, so you want to make sure that you are applying the right product for your grass type.
Is a Pre-Emergent Necessary?
If you have weeds cropping up in your lawn, a pre-emergent is not always necessary depending on the weed type and the severity of the infestation. There are certain spot treatments you can purchase for weeds such as dandelions or you can address these by pulling by hand. A pre-emergent is mostly recommended for situations when you foresee weeds growing out of control on a poorly maintained yard. Many new homeowners will find a neglected lawn in their new home, and this may be a situation where a pre-emergent is warranted.
When Should I apply Pre-Emergent?
If you are applying pre-emergent for crabgrass, you will want to apply it before the crabgrass seed germinates. A good way to figure this out is to find the soil temperature. Many warm-season grass types begin germination at arounds 55 degrees. Putting your pre-emergent down before this will help you get a head start on weeds like crabgrass. In warm-season regions like Florida, you will want to apply before air temperatures reach 65 degrees consistently, usually around February.
Once you get into a routine with a regular lawn care plan, and good cultural practices, you will find that you will need weed intervention less and less.
5. Reseed Bare Spots
Once you have tested and fixed nutrient deficiencies in your soil, and are done with weed control you may find that some areas of the lawn just didn't quite make it through the winter. That is to be expected, especially if you live up north or in the transition zone.
Check out our grass types chart to figure out what type of lawn you should plant.
What Grass Type Should I Plant?
Make sure you are planting the right seed for your location, and if you aren’t sure about which grass type you should be planting, you can always check with your local agriculture extension office. Figure out what grass type to plant in your region by looking at your neighbors lawns, asking a garden center or a seed supplier.
Even if you are unsure if you will have to reseed spots in your lawn, it may be a good idea to still purchase a bag of seed ahead of time.
6. Make a Fertilization Plan
Your fertilization plan will really depend on a few factors: the results of your soil test, whether or not you are planning on seeding or establishing new sod, and if you have cool- or warm-season grass.
What Type of Fertilizer Should I Use for Seeding?
For seeding, we recommend putting down a starter fertilizer the day before, such as our Growth Booster 6-18-0 with Humic Acid. Once the seed sprouts, we recommend applying one of our Humic Acid products such as Root Hume to enhance roots and nutrient uptake.
Once the seeded areas have grown, they will need Nitrogen to support continued growth and chlorophyll production. A good product for new grass is 16-4-8 or Lawn Energizer.
If you are laying new sod, it is not recommended to apply fertilizer until at least 30 days have passed. This will give the roots a chance to work their way down into the soil for nutrients. Applying fertilizer to sod too early could result in a shallow growing root system, which is not ideal for drought resistance.
The Best Fertilizers For Spring
Make sure that you have plenty of Nitrogen fertilizer for your lawn for the active growing season. Nitrogen is the element that is used in the most abundance, especially during the growing season. If you are sufficient in Potassium and Phosphorus, we recommend applying these Nitrogen products.
Our 28-0-0 High Nitrogen Lawn Food is a 70% Quick Release and 30% Slow-Release Nitrogen formula that provides immediately available Nitrogen to correct nutrient deficiencies and continues to feed over time.
Darker Green Liquid Iron is a high-quality Iron fertilizer intensified with Nitrogen and Manganese. This enhanced booster is specifically designed to energize your turf and soil to their optimum nutrient levels for maximum vigor, growth, and color.
Lawn Energizer is a high-quality Iron and micronutrient lawn booster intensified with Nitrogen. This enhanced booster is specifically designed to energize your turf and soil to their optimum nutrient levels for maximum vigor, growth, and color.
Nitrogen is essential, but make sure you have addressed the weeds in your lawn, otherwise you will be feeding the weeds instead of your grass.
7. Know Your County/State Regulations
Depending on the state you live in, you may come across certain rules about fertilizer applications. In some states, Phosphorus can only be applied after a soil test showing that the soil is deficient is presented, or after seeding. Some counties will only permit fertilizers during certain times, or there may be an unscheduled ban in place for certain reasons.
Part of lawn care is using your products responsibly to care for your yard and the environment we share with each other. Knowing the regulations can help you plan your lawn care regimen ahead of time.
Our list may be slightly different from yours depending on your yard’s needs. The best thing to do is to check on your lawn and take a look around and assess the situation. If you have any questions about lawn care, we can help you build a custom lawn plan to fit your lawn’s needs!